Almost daily, media outlets buzz with stories of how some new technology will make consumers lives better, many of which seem far-fetched, or far out in the future. Some like Apples iPhone or Amazons Kindle are met with skepticism only to be adopted in record time. These huge leaps, however, are often an evolutionary step forward from something that people are already used to doing -- like using a mobile phone or reading a book -- accelerated by a friction-free, intuitive user experience.
Inspired by their human counterparts, smartconcierges anticipate and meet guests needs by context, preferences, and prior requests, then deliver timely and relevant alerts, content, and offers. Without such intelligence, how else could a guest who asks, I need help getting Gwen Stefani concert tickets tonight not only get a 2-minute response, but also have tickets delivered via email, with a text notification ten minutes later offering transportation to the concert? How could a mere chat bot know where in the world this guest was, when tonight was, where the concert location was, and if there were seats available to book? Thats the power of the smartconcierge.
Unlike a human concierge – who wouldnt be expected to help book a return reservation or help dispatch housekeeping – smartconcierges serve as the guests single point of contact for their entire visit. In the spirit of hospitality, why are hoteliers today taxing the guest with figuring out which department to route their query to? By reading between the lines in the guests message, smartconcierges automatically route issues to the appropriate staff member. This enables the guest to control their entire hospitality experience with a few taps on their mobile device from anywhere, at anytime.
Smartconcierges are more successful at delivering exceptional guest experiences because the smartconcierge constantly learns to cover every scenario that may arise in a guests journey. That learning is retained and used in future situations. This breadth helps fulfill not only the guests service needs, but it truly transforms the request fulfillment process. Simple transactional asks like more towels, the hotel WiFi password, or borrowing a phone charger and even more complicated ones, like booking dinner reservations or finding show tickets, can be satisfied with record efficiency by the smartconcierge. This speed and effectiveness reinforces smartconcierge usage. Many guests even report finding the smartconcierge experience fun – like a game or buzz, the way the back-and-forth of everyday messaging is! When this kind of interactivity works well, it drives guest engagement to new highs without requiring more staff. What hotelier wouldnt want that?
Pleased with unprecedented convenience, guests quickly learn to message the smartconcierge first, which frees up human staff for customized requests. What used to take a hotel up to eight separate staff members to address can now be handled by one smartconcierge, enabling the hotel to regain as much as 30% of guest service man-hours. The smartconcierge can also be seen as an amenity and an enhancement to the on-property staff, who may not have time to handle simultaneous guest requests during peak hours.
Using a messaging-based smartconcierge comes naturally to most guests. Messaging now represents 12% of the five hours per day that US consumers spend on their mobile phones, and 86% of travelers already say they want to interact with their hotel via their smartphones. To todays guest, this means not having to pick up the hotel room phone and call someone, possibly wasting time having to wait on hold before even being able to ask for help. With their handy smartconcierge, even off-premises guests can easily message for assistance, which gets provided with the same immediacy as if the guest were on-site. The real-time gratification provided by the AI-powered smartconcierge has led guests to use it ten times more than calling for human assistance. Plus, AI-powered smartconcierges are mindful of etiquette and exhibit a can-do, positive disposition 24/7 smartconcierges never get harried or have a bad day.
But smartconcierges do more than just respond to inbound guest inquiries. Their hybrid programmed and organic intelligence also enables them to proactively anticipate needs by checking on guests and asking them questions that can enhance their stay, avoid guest issues, and deliver up-serve revenue opportunities. For instance, offering a guest a late check out for a modest fee, an incentive for extending their stay, or even food and drink suggestions all adds revenue to the hotels bottom line.
With each positive and satisfactory guest experience comes incremental improvement in brand reputation and customer loyalty. The new-ness factor of these intelligent smartconcierges still has the ability to delight the guest with each interaction, so much so that guests often write about these smartconcierges in glowing online reviews using words like classy to describe their enhanced experience. One guest from Nobu Las Vegas raved, Excellent guest service by Ivy at this hotel. Shes efficient and friendly and never misses a beat with ours needs. This is why we return to this hotel time after time.
To the guest, AI-enabled smartconcierges seem like a simple, enjoyable, and frictionless way to get an improved customer experience. And though the technology that powers them is anything but simple, to the hoteliers who benefit from positive guest perceptions and reviews, experiences, and revenue gains, these smartconcierges are simply fantastic, too. One day, as with the iPhone, we may look back and wonder: How did ever make do without a smartconcierge?
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Product design expert Raj Singh is CEO at Go Moment®, a Google-backed company dedicated to making customer service instant. Go Moment's award-winning smartconcierge Ivy®, as seen on NBC, is the world's largest guest engagement automation platform for hotels. Singh brings cross-discipline design, technology, and marketing experience from hundreds of large-scale technology projects for leading brands like Virgin, Lady Gaga, and HEB Grocery Company. Blending his deep expertise in UX and market research, Singh works alongside leaders in hospitality to address the industry's needs in using next-generation technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, and labor automation. In partnership with IBM Watson, Go Moment's Ivy platform, which utilizes text or voice messaging and leverages human expertise and automation to resolve requests instantly, is currently available to millions of hotel guests. Singh’s select speaking engagements and panels include: • HEDNA Innov8 • Oi Summit • BLLA Stay Boutique Live • HITEC • Phocuswright Conference • CWT VIP Summit • Plug and Play Ventures • Hotel Interactive BITAC • IBM Insight